Caring for Established Sod
ESTABLISHED TURF CARE
Most Colorado lawns use grasses that have been bred to thrive in colder climates. We find that Kentucky Bluegrass to be one of the best options. It is also the most popular, covering a vast majority of the turf that we install. We also recommend considering Tall Fescue as we have found this variety to be just as hardy and durable, standing up to even the worst Colorado winters. Both varieties have an April-October growing season. We also recommend planning a sprinkler system as part of your lawn or landscape layout. It is the most efficient way to maintain sod lawn in typical Colorado annual climate.
To best understand the supplemental water required by Bluegrass, it helps to understand the growth cycle. Bluegrass will green up in the spring and will naturally slow and turn a lighter color in the peak heat of summer. The Bluegrass will green up again in the fall with the moisture and then will go dormant as winter approaches. The primary growth periods are early spring as it is coming out of winter dormancy and in the fall as it prepares for winter. These periods are the most important for watering and nutrients as they will help the plant to remain viable and healthy.
Whether your wanting your sod to green up sooner or stay green until winter, Bluegrass is adaptable to just about any consumer requirements by the addition reduction of water, fertilizer and mowing. The amount of supplemental water may vary as current weather conditions change.
Fescue is a plant that greens up in the spring between April-June and goes dormant during winter between Nov-March. The primary growth periods are early spring as it comes out of dormancy and fall as it begins to prepares for winter. The waxy coating of Fescue preserves moisture in the leaf which results in superior drought tolerance. Depending on the amount of shade on your Fescue or how much sand content is in your soil will help determine how much water. If you have a shadier area the Fescue will not need as much water. If you have heavy sand content it is possible that you may need more than 1 in per week.
DETERMINE WATER USAGE
A simple method to determine whether or not your sod needs watering is to observe the dehydration signs given by the grass. These include:
- Grass has a purplish tint
- Grass blades turn steel gray and footprints are left when walked on
- Grass blades turn straw color
As far as watering goes there are many different ways you can water. Some of those include dragging hoses with a variety of attached sprinklers, using an automatic sprinkler system, or even using weather-based or soil moisture-based controllers.
The amount of water can be measured by rain gauges, setting out cans on the lawn area that is covered by sprinklers, or by understanding the application rates of the sprinkler system. Some will set their automatic sprinkler clocks but don’t change them depending on climatic changes. This results is the most wasteful water management.
Figuring out how much water must be applied to get the desired result is the ultimate question. However due to so many different variables such as climatic conditions not being constant, water availability, and consumers requiring different outcomes; the answer is not simple. One must consider all factors to be a better water manager. Below is an approx. average for Bluegrass Lawn. Data is based on historical averages and do not predict the future. This is a guideline not a substitute for good judgment, reason and common sense.
BEST IRRIGATION PRACTICES
Colorado having more of a dry climate helps to prevent plant-based diseases affecting your sod to thrive. This means that no matter what time of day you water you will not put your lawn at considerable risk of developing harmful molds or fungi. However, the best time to water any lawn is late in the evening after sunset or early morning before sunrise. The cooler temperatures and higher humidity help retain more of the water in the lawn with less evaporation and less total water usage.
Fertilizing 4-5 times a year with Graff’s Turf proprietary blend is best. Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Halloween are the easiest times to remember to fertilize. Use a complete turf-grade fertilizer with an analysis of 20-20-10-3F. Make sure to sweep or blow all fertilizer off your sidewalks and other rock areas as the iron in the fertilizer will permanently stain cement and rock. Make sure to water-in the fertilizer thoroughly.
When moving, you don’t want to remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at one time. Nor do you want to remove more than ¾ inch of grass at any single time. Use sharp blades and mow in the cool of the day to help reduce plant stress. If you are mowing at proper intervals you can leave the clippings to mulch back in the soil, which can recycle and reclaim valuable plant nutrients and provide the organic matter the lawn needs to thrive without thatching.